The Hidden Value Behind The O’Neill Deal

Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) readies at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears defeated the Vikings 33-27. (AP Photo/David Berding)

When a player signs a large extension – especially when he’s a fan favorite – the focus understandably centers on the dollars and cents. What I’m going to argue is that there is a more abstract value behind Brian O’Neill’s recent extension with the Minnesota Vikings.

First, though, a quick refresher. Josh Frey wrote about the deal shortly after it happened right here on Purple PTSD, noting that “O’Neill’s extension is for five years, and it is worth a whopping $92.5 million dollars. It keeps one of the NFL’s top RTs in Minnesota through 2026, and it makes him the second-highest paid player at the position behind only Ryan Ramczyk.” I went on to discuss O’Neill’s deal within the context of Minnesota’s remaining cap space.

The financial component of things is of the utmost importance. No one can deny that. Nevertheless, there’s an extra layer of value.

By signing Brian O’Neill to a sizeable extension before his rookie deal runs out, the Minnesota Vikings once again send a very clear message to their young players: we take care of our own players when they come in and perform.

The presence of Kirk Cousins’ gargantuan deal – among several other highly-paid players – means that our Vikings need to balance the books by bringing in a fair amount of cheap talent. They’ve done so by drafting oodles and oodles of players. In 2019, they brought in 12 players through the draft. Last year, it was a 15-person draft class. In 2021, it was a 11 players. What kind of message are these players getting from Minnesota’s management?

Well, the O’Neill deal is yet another instance when Minnesota has taken care of their own. Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr played well and got paid. The same can be said for Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Adam Thielen, and C.J. Ham, among others (even though the last two were UDFAs).

Our Vikings are far from perfect; I mean, would it kill them to win a Super Bowl or two? Nonetheless, one thing that I respect about the organization is that they make a genuine effort to reward players who perform well. Hopefully, O’Neill’s deal serves as one more reminder to the other players that ongoing success can lead to a life-changing payday in a purple uniform.

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